International Asia Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 23, 2020

Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 23, 2020

Morning brief




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As of 6am, Feb 23, 2020:

WORLD COUNT: There are 77,990 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world. A total of 33 countries and territories have been affected so far. The number of deaths has risen to 2,363. Across the world, a total of 12,064 are in critical condition, while 21,318 previously infected persons have recovered.

CHINA: There are 76,291 confirmed cases of infection in China. The country’s death count now stands at 2,345 people. The World Health Organization-led team arrived in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak, on Saturday (Feb 22). The team includes experts in epidemiology, virology, clinical management, outbreak control and public health. Hong Kong confirmed its 70th new case of COVID-19 in the country. A second flight from Japan bringing 84 people back from the Diamond Princess cruise ship landed in Hong Kong on Saturday. Among the passengers, 82 were Hong Kong residents and two Macao residents, who returned to Macao directly from the airport. Hong Kong said that 66 cases onboard the ship were Hong Kong residents who are currently under treatment in Japan. Macao’s case count stands at 10 cases.

SINGAPORE: There are three new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Singapore, bringing the total number infected to 89. One of the new cases is connected to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God, and another was part of the group of Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Feb 9. Contact tracing is underway for the remaining case to establish any links to previous cases or travel history to China.

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ASEAN: No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

ASIA: A flight with 19 Taiwanese citizens who were on the Diamond Princess in Japan arrived in Taiwan on Friday (Feb 21). Taiwan confirmed two additional cases of the coronavirus on Saturday (Feb 22), bringing the total on the island to 26. South Korea reported 224 new cases of COVID-19, raisin the country tally to 433. More than half of South Korea’s coronavirus cases (at least 231) are connected to the Shincheonji religious group in the southern city of Daegu. Around 9,300 Shincheonji members are being put into self-isolation and will be tested for the virus. The group said it “deeply regrets” the outbreak, suspending all “services, gatherings, and mission activity” while all its buildings are being sanitised. With the alarming rise in cases, the outbreak is entering a “grave situation“, according to Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, noting the government is “doing its best to prevent the spread.” Samsung Electronics confirmed one case of the virus at its smartphone factory complex in Gumi. The plant has been closed until Monday morning (Feb 24), and the floor where the infected employee worked will be closed until Tuesday (Feb 25). Japan reported 25 additional cases of the virus, bringing the country count up to 134 cases. The Japanese Ministry of Health has discovered that 23 passengers who were in quarantine on the Diamond Princess were released without being retested, which was the condition of their release. One of them has since tested positive for the virus. There are currently 634 confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with the Diamond Princess, which will be fully sanitised and deep cleaned so that it can resume service on April 29 of this year. Israel, which has one confirmed case of the virus, announced that nine South Korean tourists who visited the country have tested positive since returning home. Anyone who may have come into close contact with the tour group for an extended period of time must self-quarantine, said authorities, who also announced some of the most sites the group visited—Masada in southern Israel, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The country has also expanded it travel restrictions to include anyone who has been in South Korea and Japan in the last 14 days (as well as for China, Singapore, Thailand, Macao and Hong Kong). On Saturday (Feb 22), a flight from South Korea landed in Isreal. Around 200 foreign nationals were not allowed off the plane, which was refueled and sent back. Iran reported 11 new cases of the COVID-19 and two new fatalities. The country’s total is 29 confirmed cases and six deaths. The United Arab Emirates confirmed two more cases of the virus, increasing the country’s tally to 13. Iraq reported its first case COVID-19.No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

EUROPE: The increase in confirmed cases beyond China has become a cause for concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case,” he said, adding that the increase in cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran shows the virus is spreading in other parts of the world. Ghebreyesus noted that “the window of opportunity is narrowing” to contain the virus. Italy reported 45 new cases of the virus, bringing the country total up to 66. The country reported two deaths from the virus—a 78-year-old man from Veneto region and a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy. A plane carrying 32 British and European passengers  from the Diamond Princess cruise ship landed in the United Kingdom on Saturday (Feb 22). The UK still has a total of nine confirmed cases. No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AMERICA: The United States raised the travel alert for Americans to South Korea to Level 2, meaning that travellers should “exercise increased caution” and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines in preventing infection, like avoiding sick people and thorough, frequent hand washing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN he thinks “we are clearly at the brink” of a coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump was angry with senior advisers after 14 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 were brought back to the US from Japan. The President was first told that patients with the infection would stay in Japan, where the Diamond Princess is anchored. The Washington Post reported that the State Department and a US health official decided to bring them back and place them in isolation without informing the President. No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AUSTRALIA: Australia now has 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus after six citizens evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus. New Zealand has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in the country.

AFRICA: No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.



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